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It was the end of spring in 1947. Harry Truman was president. Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the first African American to play in the major leagues, and the hurricane of 1947 flooded Jefferson Parish and caused $100 million of damage in New Orleans.

Faubourg Treme, one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in America, was home to a large, prosperous, and artistically flourishing community of slaves and free people of color. In 1947, Ada Baquet, Wayne’s great aunt, opened one of the first African American restaurants in Treme, Paul Gross’ Chicken Coop. Soon after, Wayne’s father, Edward Baquet, joined Ada at Paul Gross’ Chicken Coop and it became a staple in New Orleans’ Black community and was especially popular for the their Chicken-in-a-Box for customers on the go.

In 1965, Edward opened Eddie’s in the Seventh Ward when Wayne was a senior at St. Augustine High School.  After two years of college, Wayne decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Wayne went on to open eleven restaurants successfully.

Wayne returned to the Treme neighborhood to open ‘Lil Dizzy’s Café in 2005 and his business has grown and attracted people from all over the world.

Today, almost 70 years after Paul Gross’ Chicken Coop opened, Wayne insists that his cooking stays close to his Afro-Creole roots, as he believes that Creole Food is the Soul Food of New Orleans.  And for every meal, whether it is the hot sausage, file’ gumbo, bread pudding or French toast, he hopes that his patrons believe it too.

For the Baquets, who can trace their New Orleans ancestry back 200 years, their restaurants aren’t just a business, but a passion. There are many restaurants in New Orleans. Most claim that they have the best-fried chicken, the best gumbo or bread pudding. But at Lil’ Dizzy’s, the only claim they make is their commitment to good food and great times since 1947.

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